Thursday, October 30, 2008

Walk to reclaim Bengaluru: 9th Nov 2008, Sunday, Lalbagh West Gate, Bengaluru

Message from Hasiru Usiru:

Dear All,

Hasiru Usiru, a network of community organisations, residents associations, project affected communities, voluntary organisations and individuals concerned about protecting equitable access to public spaces such as roads and parks in Bengaluru, invite you to participate in a Walk to Reclaim Bengaluru on November 9th 2008, at 11 am at Lalbagh West Gate. The key purpose is to highlight the extensive damage that road-widening and Metro projects are causing to the city, destroying in the process lives, livelihoods and thousands of trees. This walk is also to demand an inclusive planning process in shaping our city and ensuring that short-sighted, elite induced, infrastructure development, does not cause irreversible damage to the city and ruin the lives of thousands.

* The Walk is to highlight that there are many progressive and intelligent solutions to the current problems of traffic congestion that do not involve destruction of thousands of trees, businesses and homes.
* The Walk is to emphasise the importance of including public consultations as required by law in road widening and Metro construction proposals. (Currently, both projects are being rushed through in blatant violation of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, amongst others.)
* The Walk is to emphasise that the Metro is a solution that can work only if integrated with bus based transport modes. (Building an elevated Metro will certainly ruin the city forever.)
* The Walk is to assert our right to participate in decision making relating to projects of our city.

To mobilise support for this Walk, we have developed a flyer and the same is attached.

Please feel free to print or forward the flyer and kindly use it in mobilizing the wide public to ensure maximum participation in the walk. We also request you to contribute to the expenses involved in this initiative.

Hasiru Usiru members are keen to meet with your community or organisation and explain why this Walk is so necessary now. Please confirm if you would like one of the Hasiru Usiru volunteers to meet with your community and make a presentation.

For details of participation or to make a donation please contact Nandini, Divya or Sharmila at Environment Support Group. Email: / / Call them at Environment Support Group on (080)26531339, (080) 22441977 (b/w 10:30 AM and 5:30 PM) on all working days.

Namma Rasthe.. Namma Uru.. Hasire Usiru!

(Our Roads.... Our City... Greenery is Life's Breath)

Looking forward to your participation.

With warm Diwali greetings.

for Hasiru Usiru network

Diwali disasters: 45 hurt in cracker chaos

Diwali disasters: 45 hurt in cracker chaos

Melwen was injured while bursting crakers. He is being treated at Minto Hospital in Bangalore on Tuesday
Express News Service
First Published : 29 Oct 2008 04:30:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Oct 2008 02:14:06 PM IST

BANGALORE: Many may have had a blast on the festival of lights, but for some others, it turned to be a nightmare. As many as 45 cracker-related injury cases have been reported across the city hospitals over Monday and Tuesday.

Twelve-year-old Chetana, sustained eye injury on Monday when she played with the chemicals taken out from spent firecrackers.

She has been admitted at the Shekar Nethralaya. The hospital also received six other cracker-related injury cases.

The Minto Opthalmic Hospital registered nine cases on Monday of which one is being treated as an in-patient. Referring to the case, RMO Dr Chandraprabha said “sevenyear- old Sriraksha’s injuries are severe”.

Most of the patients admitted at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital have suffered minor injuries. Speaking to The Express, Dr Rajana said: “Some children have suffered corneal burns. These patients’ vision will be restored in two or three days and they won’t need any surgical intervention.” Sixteen such cases, mostly of children below 10 years of age, were treated at the Narayana Netralaya. Complaints related to severe injury to the eye balls, burning of eye lashes, and smoke irritation were among them.

Most of the injuries have been attributed to faulty crackers - crackling sparklers, flower pots, rockets and bombs. Doctors, however, said that parental neglect while children played with crackers cannot be ruled out.

Dr Rohit Shetty from Narayana Nethralaya said: “Among the major injured is fourand- a-half-year old Gagan from Dasarahalli.

While bursting the cracker, his cornea got injured resulting in the blurring of his vision.” Attributing it to the negligence of parents, Dr Shetty added: “Many children light firecrackers unsupervised and they have a tendency to get close to the cracker, trying repeatedly to light some of the malfunctioning ones. These may burst suddenly into the face. Seven-year-old Anand’s vision was blurred after cracker fumes went into his eyes. “I was checking as to why the flower pot which I had lighted was not lighting up. The fumes came up suddenly and entered my eyes, leaving me injured,” Anand said.

For the past three days, the Victoria Hospital has been receiving three to five cracker- related injury cases every day. Twelveyear- old, Girish from Shantipuram, was admitted to the hospital with his right eye and a part of his face badly burnt. Diwali celebrations will be on for a couple of days more. “Safety first” should be the mantra for a happier ending to the festival.

BMIC: court ruling gives hope to farmers, land owners

BMIC: court ruling gives hope to farmers, land owners


‘Individual cases of whether the land fell within FWA not examined’

Government restrained from taking possession of a farmer’s land at Thotadaguddadahalli

Farmers, land owners encouraged by the interim order of the court

Bangalore: Coming to the rescue of farmers and land owners in the controversial Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, the Karnataka High Court in its recent interim order has decided to examine the issue whether the land acquired for the project falls within the Frame Work Agreement (FWA).

In the interim order, the court has come to the conclusion that earlier verdicts, upholding the acquisition of land for the project, were of general in nature on the ground that land was required for the public purpose, but those verdicts did not examine the individual cases on whether the land fell within the alignment as per the FWA, which was upheld by the courts.

These observations have now opened the doors of the courts for many farmers and land owners to litigate afresh against the acquisition of their land.

A Division Bench comprising Justice V. Gopalagowda and Justice K.N. Keshavanarayana made these observations in its interim order of September 26 on an appeal filed by M. Nagabushan, who owns land at Thotadaguddadahalli, off Tumkur Road. While referring to the FWA and other documents, the Bench said: “None of the land situated at Thotadaguddadahalli village is required for the BMICP for any purpose.

“Thus from these documents there is no difficulty for us in coming to a prima facie conclusion that the land belonging to the appellant is outside the FWA.”

The Bench while admitting the appeal by Mr. Nagabushan has restrained the Government from taking possession of seven acres and 23 guntas of land belonging to him pending final hearing on the plea.

Farmers and land owners, who have been fighting over the issue of acquisition of their land situated away from the road alignment and proposed townships, and contrary to the FWA, are optimistic about the fallout of this interim order.

“We have been contending that hundreds of acres of land, exceeding the 20,193 acres of land required for BMICP as per the FWA, were acquired by Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB). Our contention has now got legal support following the observation by the High Court,” said S. Manjunath, a farmer who is fighting the acquisition of excess land for the project by the KIADB.

Mr. Manjunath said although the High Court was yet to give final verdict on this issue and the interim order is applicable only to the appellant, the interim observations have encouraged other farmers and land owners, who have been aggrieved by the action of the KIADB. Acquisition of land outside the purview of the FWA had made the lives of many farmers miserable.”

“The State Government, which is aware of the acquisition of excess land, at least now should come to the rescue of farmers and land owners by placing all relevant records and documents before the court,” he said.

Cleaning becomes a tough task

Cleaning becomes a tough task

Staff Reporter

People should keep the cracker-waste in a plastic bag, says BBMP official

— Photo: K.Gopinathan

Who will clean this? Empty cracker boxes littered on a road in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Bangalore: Although there has been a reduction in sale of crackers this Deepavali, the task of those sweeping the public roads has not changed with most Bangaloreans leaving the roads littered with pieces of paper.

According to Health Department officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), leaving the cracker-waste on the road amounted to littering of public place as per the law but it would be difficult to penalise the residents.

“Environmental pollution can be checked to some extent if the residents collect the waste from in front of their house soon after burning the crackers. Residents need to store the waste in a plastic bag so that it can be picked up by the door-to-door garbage collectors,” said a senior BBMP official. The official pointed out that whether sale of crackers was reduced or not, the attitude of people with regard to keeping the surroundings clean had not changed.

The official agreed that garbage clearance in some parts of the city had been affected because of negligence of contractors in ensuring that those employed by them turned up for the duty. Even the material like flowers, plantain leaves and other decorative items used for puja were found scattered on the roadside.

Temperature to dip further

Temperature to dip further
DH News Service,Bangalore:
The already cold weather in Bangalore is expected to drop further by three to four degrees in the next three days. This prediction by the Meteorological Department is bound to push Bangaloreans further into the winter preparation mode.

The mood was pretty cold this Deepavali. So was the weather, as the Met Department confirmed. Normally the weather in Bangalore gets colder during the second or the third week of November. The chill in the air has already begun to make a big difference, particularly in the evenings.

The Met Department Director Muthuchamy said that the temperature is likely to dip further with 3 to 4 degrees below in the coming 3 days. After three days, the temperature might come to normal. The temperature could fall to as low as 11-12 degrees celsius in the next two months. According to Muthuchamy, it might get even colder due to showers during the month-end.

The next two days, however, are expected to have clear skies, although there is a possibility of fog or mist in some parts of Bangalore. The temperature is most likely to be a maximum of 29 degrees celsius and minimum could be as low as 14 degrees in the coming days, the Department sources said.

Despite low cracker sales, pollution hits record high

Despite low cracker sales, pollution hits record high
By Subhash Chandra N S,DH News Service,Bangalore:
The financial slowdown might have reduced conspicuous consumption and dulled cracker sales across town. But now, there is a little twist in the Deepavali tale.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has now ruled that this year’s festival was the most polluting so far. Reason: the Respiratory Suspended Particulate Material (RSPM) has been recorded at a high 138 mc/m3 (microns per meter cube).

The cracker dealers have been complaining of poor sales, although environmentalists are dead against the use of crackers to curtail global warming.

But the KSPCB monitoring of this year’s Deepavali has revealed that the noise pollution and the air pollution caused this year is high compared to the previous years.

The Board monitored air and noise levels before and during the festival in five residential areas of Jayanagar, Vijayanagar, AECS Layout, Indiranagar and Cubbonpet areas to record the noise level as well as the suspended particulatory materials due to the burning of crackers.

“It is a matter of concern that the RSPM which measured up to 71mc/ m3 last year has now increased to 138mc/m3,” informed Sharathchandra, chairman, KSPCB.

The round-the-clock online monitoring instruments at the City Railway Station as well as at Rajajinagar to measure the City’s air quality level put the figure at 159mc/m3. The normal is 73mc/m3.

Though the ambient air quality national standard should not exceed 100 mc/m3, (between 10-50 mc/m3 in residential and 150 mc/m3 in the industrial limits) the standards have been left behind even in the residential areas during the festival of lights.

Deafening sound

Even the noise pollution has reached a new high at 73 decibels during this time as against the 55-56 decibels measured during Deepavali last year.

The noise level measured in Jayanagar was 73 decibels as against the normal 67, while it was 81, 88 and 72 at Vijayanagar, Indiranagar and Cubbonpet respectively against the normal day levels of 70, 60 and 66 respectively.

An environment officer who has been measuring the noise and air pollution for several years, said that the RSPM level had never been so high ever since the monitoring of it began in 2002. Crackers dealers speak: On condition of anonymity, a cracker dealer said that it was not the increasing use, but the type of crackers which had been responsible for the rising pollution.

“The traditional crackers have been replaced by the improved bigger crackers which make loud noise, even some chain crackers which lost longer has been the most sought after by the people,” he said.
He said that even the rockets and ornamental crackers considered as safe for children were filled with more toxic material. While this increased efficiency of the crackers, they polluted much more than the traditional crackers

Contractors in a fix, no place to dump garbage

Contractors in a fix, no place to dump garbage
By Satish Shile, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Now garbage contractors in Bangalore city are in a fix. They have no place to dump garbage collected in the city.

The scientific landfill unit set up near Doddaballapur, which started its operation in July this year, has stopped functioning after villagers demanded shift of the unit.

Within a few days after the unit started accepting waste, villagers around the unit began protesting against it.

They alleged bad smell from the plant has been affecting their lives and expressed their fear of ground water getting polluted. Doddaballapur taluk Raitha Sangha and villagers of Gundalur, where the plant is located, continued protests till the their demand is met. It has already been one-and-a-half month since Terra Firma, the company managing the unit, stopped accepting waste.

Chandra Tejasvi, secretary of Chikkaballapur district Raitha Sangha, said “The idea of BBMP to have dumping yard for urban waste in rural areas in itself is condemnable. Why should villagers be made scapegoats? If at all they want to process waste, they should do it scientifically. Villagers in the area up to 5 km radius around the unit had to suffer bad smell. They could not eat or sleep well.”

“Initially villagers threw stones at our trucks. We filed complaints with the police. Later they began to protest by sleeping on the way to the unit. As a result trucks stopped going there and we went on searching alternative sites to dispose wastes,” said Balasubramaniyam, General Secretary of BBMP Garbage Contractors’ Association. Contractors managed to dump waste in an abandoned quarry at Dyanappanahalli in Bommanahalli for a month. However, they could not continue there for long. Residents of the area raised voice and under the leadership of Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy they succeeded to stop the menace.

Reddy said, “It is illegal to dump waste in city limits. Despite opposition from the public, contractors continued to dump waste. I appealed to the Palike Commissioner to stop that. But he did not budge. Later we filed cases against eight truck owners for dumping waste in Hulimavu police station and since then dumping of waste has stopped.”


On an average 2,000 MT of garbage is generated in the city. The total generation goes up to 3,000 MT during Deepavali. Unable to find suitable space to dump waste, contractors are in search of abandoned quarries.

However, dumping in abandoned quarries is illegal.

“The Palike should be blamed for the inconvenience. It has failed to provide dumping yards. If we dump in abandoned quarries the public oppose and Pollution Control Board also raises object. If we don’t lift garbage we will be termed villains in the eyes of the public. If the problem is not solved soon we will stage a protest by not lifting garbage in the city.” said a contractor, who wished not to be quoted.

A senior officer in the Palike said that the Palike was working out strategies to convince villagers around the plant area. “I hope the problem will be solved soon,” said the officer.

25,000 fish die in Siddapura lake

25,000 fish die in Siddapura lake
DH News Service, Bangalore:
In a tell-tale reminder of the extent of pollution in water bodies in the City, at least 25,000 fish died due to contamination in Siddapura lake.

The fish had died three days ago, but they surfaced only on Wednesday.

The residents were in for a rude shock on Wednesday morning as thousands of dead fish were seen floating in the lake.

Manjunath, who had obtained a lease for fishing in the lake, complained that the fish had died because acidic effluents from the sewage line of the adjoining BEML Layout had mixed with the lake water. He claimed his loss was nothing less than Rs 2 lakh. “There were 25,000 fish of various sizes. A majority of them weighed around 8 kg,” said Manjunath.

The residents of the area were infuriated by the death of the fish on such a large scale. “If the level of pollution is so high in our area then we should check the state of ground water. It may also have got contaminated,” said Nataraj, a resident of Siddapura.

Meanwhile, a BBMP official said the Palike was not aware of the incident. The lake development authority (LDA) was also caught unawares by the fish death.

CEO of LDA, C S Vedant said he had no information about the incident. However, he assured that the matter would be looked into immediately.

Environmentalists believe that the dissolved oxygen level would have gone too low resulting in the fish kill. They also fear the mixing of sewage in the tank.

In the past, similar incidents had occurred in the Ulsoor lake, Sankey Tank and Vengaianakere where large-scale fish death had taken place.

No right, no respite for riders

No right, no respite for riders

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I People face new traffic rules every day I
As if traffic jams were not enough to test their patience, people have to put up with new traffic rules on the roads every other day, which makes commuting even more tiresome.

Commuters in Koramangala were taken by surprise when a right turn on Hosur road, in front of the St. Anthony’s Church was suddenly closed a few months ago.

The right turn, which was opposite a petrol pump, a little ahead of the Forum Mall, was an easy route to take for all those who wanted to reach the road connecting Madiwala and Dairy Circle. However, it was barricaded and no U-turn signs were put up near it.

Says Tanya B, a student, “I stay in Koramangala 6th block and my college is near Dairy Circle. Earlier I took the right turn to reach the other end in 10 minutes. But now it takes so much more time.” Since the right-turn was closed, most people going from Koramangala or Hosur Road to Madiwala need to take the road in front of St. John's Hospital, which creates its own share of problems. A resident of Tavarekere Road, Shankar K. says, “I do not understand why the traffic police had to close this turn. All those who go to Indiranagar and the Airport Road now need to take the road opposite the hospital. If the rightturn had been kept open, things would have been much simpler and there would have been less traffic-jams. It takes nearly 45 minutes during peak hours to commute on this stretch now.” However, traffic cops say that the right turn was closed in an attempt to reduce the traffic on Hosur Road. “We diverted vehicles on St. John's Hospital Road to reduce traffic. We are planning to make it a two-way soon,” says inspector T. Venkatesh, of Madiwala police station.

Residents protest Metro tree felling

Residents protest Metro tree felling

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I Metro will trim or fell around 30 per cent of trees on either side of RV Road in Jayanagar I BMRCL has planted over 15,000 saplings as a substi- tute for the 1,500 trees that are to be cut for the project
RV Road in Jayanagar will soon lose the lush green canopy of trees and well maintained parks on either side of the thoroughfare. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd will have to cut down or trim around 30 per cent of the trees to make way for Namma Metro that will run on an elevated line in the middle of the road.

Two terminals will also be built on the road, as part of the 14.9-km north-south Metro corridor which will begin at Yeshwanthpur and end at RV Road.

The terminals on RV Road will be set up at South End Circle between the 28th Cross and 30th Cross and between the 38th Cross and 40th Cross in Jayanagar 8th Block.

Residents of the area say the trees are an integral part of the area and are up in arms against the move to cut them down. Senior citizens in Jayanagar say the parks have for long made the locality a pleasant one to live in and have raised objections against the move to fell the trees.

BMRCL MD N. Sivasailam, who discussed the issue with the residents, says, “The trees on either side will be pruned for the Metro to be able to run on this stretch. Trees will be cut only to make way for the terminals that will each be 135 metres in length. We will clear only five metres of the park.” The residents only hope that BMRCL will make arrangements to restore the greenery that is lost.

Federation of Jayanagar Residents’ Association president K.V.Bhaskar Murthy says, “Pruning or cutting trees is inevitable if we are to make way a new public transit system. The Metro will benefit many people. But we hope that the corporation will take a cue from the Delhi Metro and restore the greenery in a few years.” Mr Murthy notes that the Delhi Metro officials took care to plant trees and create gardens. “Namma Metro should also develop green areas and be eco-friendly,” he says.

An official from the Metro team says BMRCL has planted over 15,000 saplings in various parts of the city as a substitute for the 1,500 trees that are to be cut for the project.

“Even if parks are affected during the project, they will all be restored once the work is completed,” he says.

Post-Diwali, litter bugged

Post-Diwali, litter bugged

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There is more hazardous firecracker litter on the roads after this Diwali with BBMP not making good on its promise to clean up the city after the festival, find Chetana Belagere and Sanchita Sen
As the noise of Diwali crackers subsides, the streets of the city not only appear more drab — they’re also much more dirty. BBMP’s promise to keep the city clean in the days leading to Diwali and afterwards seems an empty one, with litter filling Bengaluru’s roads, making it apparent that the civic staff have taken the holiday mood all too literally.

Just when Bengalureans were congratulating themselves on having found a ‘green way’ to celebrate Diwali, it is becoming apparent that their surroundings have more cracker litter than usual.

This year the city is seeing 20 per cent more garbage post-Diwali than it usually does this time of the year. Cracker debris is seen strewn all around with no sign of the so-called cleaning drive achieving its objective. Just before Diwali, officials of BBMP had announced that a special cleaning drive would be launched ahead of the festival which would extend right up to the day of the celebration. A special meeting was held with regular contractors to instruct them to intensify cleaning during this period. BBMP commis sioner S. Subramanya had said, “Special instructions l have been given to clear all cracker litter from the streets.” But the result has been anything but effective.

While BBMP officers claim the mess is due to the employees going on leave for the festival, people report seeing garbage col lection staff on the streets ignoring the cracker litter strewn around.

“Garbage collectors have been walking up to houses asking for bakshish. They take the garbage away only if they are given Rs 10 or Rs 50, but refuse to clear the litter on the streets,” says Samskriti Chabra, who lives in Indiranagar.

Mr Subramanya promises the litter will be cleared before Thursday as the sweepers will be back to work by then. Their services will be required as crackers will continue to sound in many areas days after the festival. “We will ensure that garbage does not get piled up. We will do our best to prevent pollution, but people too must try not to leave litter around. It would be better if they cleaned up their own mess,” says a BBMP official. “We are trying to do our best because we know dirty streets are not healthy for people living on them,” adds BBMP chief health officer L.T. Gayathri.


Stench in the air

On a muggy Thursday afternoon, a seemingly relaxed man is fishing at the Ulsoor lake. The hapless guard posted at the protected lake rushes to the spot and asks the man to leave. Undaunted, the latter waits for the catch first. Resigned and shaking his head, the guard leaves. It’s a picture that sums up the scene at Ulsoor lake.
The 50-hectare lake — that the historians trace back to the 16th century — is still a much-preferred jogger’s haunt. Local film-makers still find in the lake the
right mix of the urban and the scenic beauty. Srinivasan,a resident of Cox town, says people have begun to live with the problems of the lake,that once had a prime position in the Bangalore tour itinerary.
“The BBMP has done its bit by fencing the lake. But despite restricted timings and men posted to keep the intruders away, the lake has become a favourite haunt for people who want to just idle away in the afternoons. The results is strewn-around cigarette butts, water bottles and plastic litter,’’ says Srinivasan.
“The lake covers a huge area and it becomes unmanageable sometimes. There are people who hang around and sleep for long hours on the islands... we try to keep them away but at times some turn rude,’’ complains the guard.
The fenced stretch of the lake opposite the RBANMS college is littered with plastic and other waste. Same is the case on the southern stretches, bordering the Old Madras Road. Rajiv, a regular jogger near the lake, appreciates the efforts taken up to beautify the lake but wants more focus on the seemingly marginal issues like stricter monitoring of people who visit the lake.
“The desilting drive will do a lot good to the lake. But what’s the point if people still go about littering the place? The stench is bad in the mornings and sometimes defeats the very purpose of a morning jog,’’ explains Rajiv.
Desilting welcome, but stricter watch needed on violators Joggers say the morning stench is a put-off The lake, fed by SWDs, has filth floating on many stretches Guards find keeping intruders away a tough task

Authorities not sticking to deadlines

Authorities not sticking to deadlines

Bangalore: Though Bangalore’s lakes look pretty, the quality of water is fast deteriorating. Former environment secretary and conservationist, A N Yellappa Reddy tells The Times of India that most lakes are on the deathbed.
What is the condition of lakes today in the city?
I would say none of the lakes are being maintained. Even if they look pretty from outside with parks around, the quality of water is very bad. There is no strict vigil to prevent dumping of wastes. The poultry waste, slaughter waste, hospital waste, household waste, everything ends up in the lakes. Whenever it rains, the dirty water along with solid waste gets in to the storm water drains, which further leads to the lakes. People fail to understand that the lake is a living entity. There is rich biodiversity in the water. The aquatic eco-system has collapsed because of such waste contaminating the lakes. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board had presented a paper on water quality in Bangalore. It showed that water from almost all parts of the city contains fecal coliforms (bacteria from faeces). So you can imagine the quality of water in the city.
How is the state of administration of the lakes?
The state of administration is in utter confusion. Some lakes are under forest department, some under the panchayat, some LDA, some BBMP, some BDA. Ultimately there is no well-defined policy to maintain the water bodies. Article 21, our fundamental right to life also encompasses our right to safe water and to good environment. Then why is the government denying it to people. None of the departments coordinate with each other and hardly anyone knows about the water quality and how to deal with it. Sewage water from unauthorized drains is let into the lakes. Along with this, BWSSB also lets its untreated sewage water in to the water bodies. Slaughter waste, poultry waste, hazardous industrial waste are killing our lakes. Most of them have become dead zones. Crores of rupees have been spent for the rejuvenation of these lakes but what is the point if no one maintains them. Bellandur lake was improved recently but it is not being maintained anymore. There is no accountability for funds and no interdepartmental communication.
Which are the lakes that are in the worst condition?
All are dying. There were over 3000 lakes once in Bangalore. As a boy I used to drink water from Bellandur and Madiwala lakes. Look at them today. There is no defined policy for management of lakes in the city. It’s a mess.
Do you see any funds crisis?
There is no dearth for funds. Authorities are planning things but not meeting any deadlines. If lakes are going to be transferred to one authority then they should just do it instead of loosely talking about it. There is no resolution and responsibility. The software industries should invest in the lakes. When I say invest I don’t mean that they shouldn’t own it but contribute to its development as responsible citizens. The lake view apartments shouldn’t just enjoy the beauty but take initiatives to keep it clean. Waste in the city should be segregated. Authorities should list out different zones, like high-density zone where population is high, make a system of collecting waste, then they should decontaminate it. Waste shouldn’t be just let in to water bodies. It’s a matter of resolution.


Problem of plenty

It’s ironical that the southern pockets of Bangalore — often identified with the city’s IT and realty feel-good — house the worst-maintained expanses of one of the city’s biggest and oldest waterbodies, Bellandur lake. The flip side of development has cost the lake dear through increased inflow of drain water and rampant dumping of solid waste.
Areas like Koramangala and Madiwala, on the south-western edges of the lake, have emerged as testimonials to the south Bangalore urban sprawl, also hit by mass-scale encroachment of lake beds. Over the years, about six state bodies have exercised control over the lake in various capacities: Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), that
maintains storm water drains directed to the lake, Lake Development Authority, minor irrigation department, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and fisheries department. It’s a problem of plenty, coupled with the absence of an integrated approach to lake development, that has done the lake in, according to residents of the nearby villages.
“It’s one thing we have to be strict on people who dump domestic and other wastes into the lake. But it also beats us as on why there is inordinate delay in clearing the garbage, both in the lake and on the dry beds,’’ says Venkat Reddy, a resident of Bellandur village.
The development of the outer ring road that also accentuated the rise of IT and other business establishments along the road, has had a major impact on the largely unprotected lake, that once used to cater to the villagers’ water needs and was even a fishing hub. The water, now dark and ridden with everything from water hyacinth to polythene bags to hotel left-overs, is a sad departure from the old days.
“There is a continuing demand to increase the capacity of the sewerage treament plant in the area to do away with massive flooding of drain water into the lake. We are waiting,’’ says Balakrishna, a resident. The Koramangala and Challaghatta sewerage treatment plant has been running under capacity and Bellandur lake is learnt to have more than 100 MLD of untreated sewerage flowing into it.
A study conducted last year — by the energy and wetlands research group at the IISc — had underlined the perils of untreated sewage, solid waste disposal and encroachment of lake beds, exposing the lake to environmental stress.
Bellandur lake hit by increased drain flow, garbage dumping
ORR and subsequent realty boom accentuated it
No integrated approach, six agencies to oversee it
Increased STP capacity could help, say residents


Exotic delights

The evenings at Sankey lake continue to be delightful. The tank is brimming with plush lawns and exotic trees blooming in the park, making it just right for a quiet, nice evening.
The senior citizens who come here for a walk every evening, though, say that there is not enough lighting in the park, which makes almost half of the park inaccessible duirng the night. The bathrooms stink and cannot be used most of the time. The muck from the immersion tank is still lying near the gate, which makes the place slippery and messy when it rains.
In spite of these issues, all of them add that they love to visit the lake everyday. “The bathrooms cannot be used at all. There should be a person all the time to maintain the bathrooms. There are not enough lights because of which we don’t go to the other side of the lake after dark. Sometimes, there will be no bench free for senior citizens as couples occupy these benches in the evenings. It would be good if some are labelled for senior citizens,’’ says Mohan Advani, a resident of the locality who comes to the park every evening for a walk. Balakrishna Reddy, another visitor, adds that there used to be an option for boating and there were huge trees when he used to come 10 to 15 years ago.
Horticulture superintendent (BBMP West) Anjanappa M says that the department is spending about Rs 12.97 lakh every year on the park and maintenance of the lake. The water of the immersion tank is being changed every day so that it does not stink. There are two diesel motors and two boats to pump out the water from the tank. The department spends approximately Rs 2 lakh every month for deweeding, watering and maintaining the park and taking care of the bathrooms.

Yediyur Lake

While disappearance and privatization of Bangalore’s lakes have been issues of concern for the citizens for a long time, there are a couple of lakes that are sporting a cleaner, soothing look and are also doubling up as ideal haunts to relax. The Yediyur lake in Basavanagudi even has a few migratory birds gliding around and a well-manicured park.
However, there are some issues that are still lingering. Plastic waste near the banks, for one. Though the water appears clean, a closer look will show you a filthy froth around the bank. Plus, of course, the nowcustomary plastic bottles and sachets.
However, the residents are ready to skip these minor hitches by looking at the bigger picture. According to them, it is one of the well-maintained lakes in the city, that’s increasingly being identified with many dying water bodies. “Everyday, I go to the lake for morning walk. It is clean with hardly any garbage on the pathway. There are adequate trash cans. People come here every
morning for yoga and sometimes just to relax in the fresh air. I think it is our responsibility also to dispose waste properly without dirtying the lake,’’ says Vinod, a resident of Yediyur.
Residents who have been living in the area for long say that the lake was cleaner 15 to 20 years ago. “Yes, the lake is well maintained but I have seen some people dropping household waste into it. After the water level was raised around five years ago, the BBMP is taking care of it but I think the water can be cleaner,’’ says G Ramesh, who has been living in the locality for the past 20 years.
According to the assistant engineer of BBMP ward 59 R Madhu, deweeding (a procedure of removing weeds from the lake) is being done every month and the muck from the idols immersed is being removed from the immersion tank. A ward grant of approximately Rs 30 lakh is being utilized for special improvement of the Yediyur lake. The improvement drive will cover raising of the compound wall as well as sprucing up of the park’s pathway. For regular maintenance, the horticulture wing of the BBMP spends about Rs 5 lakh, every year.

Lakes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

THE GOOD, THE BAD, the ugly
Ideal haunt to relax
Bangalore, once a city of lakes, is left with only a few of them. Many are neither clean nor citizenfriendly. TOI looks at the state of the city’s main lakes and what the government has planned for them

Misplaced priorities
Lake restoration works on the principles of desilting and deweeding, coupled with diversion of sewage drains that enter the lakes. In Bangalore, even as basic issues like dumping of garbage are left unaddressed, plans have been lined up for “beautiful islands’’ for birds and possibilities of water connectivity through lakes. Working on an international partnership, the Lake Development Authority (LDA) has taken up projects, the results partly reflected in lakes in Madiwala and Hebbal. The move to hand over the maintenance of the lakes in the BBMP jurisdiction to the palike itself is something the environmentalists are keenly watching. A reversal of fortunes for the lakes may still be a long shot.
Plans and more plans
From about 250 lakes three decades ago, Bangalore has less than 80 now
Nagawara, Hebbal lakes were taken under LDA’s PPP beautification programme
Private firms did restoration on a lease basis; worked as a pilot project
Nagawara, Doddabommasandra among lakes desilted in initial phases
100-odd lakes were also handed over to forest department; no major headway
Environmentalists say more than half the lakes need major restoration
Various civic agencies, in different capacities, monitor development
Sites of Kempe Gowda bus stand, Kanteerava stadium, golf course were lakes
How should lakes be maintained?
For lakes to not get polluted like this there should be a filtering mechanism in the storm water drain. The solid waste like plastic should not be allowed to get in to the lake. They should make lagoons or wetlands near the lakes where the wastewater goes and settles. These lagoons should have alum columns, a perforated column so that sediments settle fast. The clear water on top can then be let in to the lakes. Cost effective interventions like this have not been built in. So even though some lakes have improved, the quality of water is deteriorating.
BBMP plans
17 lakes had been transferred to BBMP by LDA last year. According to BBMP’s executive engineer in-charge of lakes M D Nadas, consultants have been engaged to prepare detailed project reports for the development of these lakes. The projects are under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), under which 35% of the funds will be contributed by the government of India, 15% by the government of Karnataka, and 50% from the BBMP funds. A budget of Rs 190 crore has been decided on for the development of these 17 lakes. The timeline is phased, with each project allotted between 18 and 24 months.
Four lakes - Sankey tank, Ulsoor, Yediyur and Kempambudi have been developed by the BBMP. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board is monitoring the water quality of all the lakes regularly. The four lakes under BBMP have provisions to divert the sewage. At the entry point they have wetlands, which act as biological filters to sieve the solid waste from entering the lakes.

Global firms to bid for Metro fare system

Global firms to bid for Metro fare system

Bangalore: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) has set its sights on contractors who will bid for the final contract to develop Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) system at Namma Metro stations. It shortlisted a mix of 11 consortia and individual firms that passed preliminary screening.
These firms are eligible to participate in the final race for designing, manufacturing, supplying, testing and commissioning AFC system.
The system will have smart card facility with integrated services. It will comprise token initialization devices, central network, ticket machines, portable cardreaders and automatic gates.
Telvent Trafico y Transporte (Spain) HCL Infosystems (India)/ Indra Sistemas SA (Spain) Thales Transportation Systems SA (France)/ Thales International India IBM India/LG CNS (Korea)/ MSI Global (Singapore) M-Tech Innovations (India)/ Hyundai Information Technology (Korea) Singapore Technologies Electronics AP Trans (Belgium)/ Prodata Systems (Belgium) ACS Solutions Switzerland/ Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Samsung SDS (Korea)/ Kalindee Rail Nirman (India) Nippon Signal (Japan)/ Mitsubishi (Japan) Tata Consultancy Services (India)/ ERG Transit Systems (Australia)

Sewage kills hundreds of fish in Siddapura lake

Sewage kills hundreds of fish in Siddapura lake

Bangalore: All it takes is one look — at the Siddapura lake, near Marathahalli — for an understanding on the standards of maintenance of lakes in Bangalore, once identified with sparkling waterbodies. On Wednesday morning, hundreds of dead fish surfaced on the lake, causing a pungent stench in the neighbourhood.
R Manjunatha, a fisherman, had taken the lake on contract from the Fisheries Department to cultivate ‘katla’, a variety of fish. He was shocked to see the dead fish in the morning and said it was a huge loss — of over Rs 50,000 — for him. Local farmers and residents said a pipeline connected to BEML Layout carries sewage into the tank every day. An excess of sewage inflow could have been the reason behind the deaths, they pointed out.
Manjunatha had taken the lake on contract from the fisheries department three years ago. He pays the government Rs 3,800 every year to cultivate fish in the lake. “All the sewage from the neighbouring BEML Layout is directed into the lake through a pipe. The fish must have died due to the sewage being dumped into the lake. It’s a big loss for me. I don’t know what to do. Even the fish that are left might die gradually,’’ Manjunatha said.
According to former environment secretary and conservationist A N Yellappa Reddy, what leads to most of such cases is the reduction in the dissolved oxygen (DO) level in the water. “If the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) is very high due to the concentration of effluents or of sewage, the DO level comes down. If the DO level is lower than 2 mg, the fish can’t survive. The tank is a living entity where a number of micro-organisms thrive. The oxygen levels need to be optimal for their survival,’’ he said.
Such cases usually occur when untreated sewage or chemical waste is let into the waterbodies. Sudhira, a researcher at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) who has done extensive research on Bangalore’s lakes, says though there are treatment plants in the city, the sewage-collection process is not up to the mark. “A lot of untreated sewage, hospital waste and chemical effluents are discharged into the tanks through storm water drains. The lakes need to have cascades falling into them from a high point, helping air-water interaction and keeping the oxygen levels high,’’ he explains. Further, adequate micro-organisms like algae are required to sustain life in the water.
There are four big water-treatment plants in the city and a few small ones, but the numbers are proving to be alarmingly inadequate.
Similar incidents in the city
Thousands of dead fish surfaced on Puttenahalli lake in June 2005. The authorities identified sewage discharge into the lake as the cause. The same problem was seen in Ulsoor lake in January and Vangiana lake in May, the same year.
A variety of fishes died in the Lalbagh tank just after the flower show in 2007. The authorities identified that the visitors to the park had littered the tank with food, plastic and other waste.
Almost a year ago, Varthur lake had developed froth because of the soap and detergent waste, leading to fish deaths.
Probable reasons behind the fish death, according to Sudhira
Drop in DO (Dissolved Oxygen) level
Inflow of sewage with a lot of organic matter
Increase in algal bloom
Eutrophication (increase in chemical nutrients, typically compounds containing nitrogen and phosphorous, in an ecosystem)

1,500-kg edible Govardhan draws thousands to Iskcon

1,500-kg edible Govardhan draws thousands to Iskcon

Bangalore: Thousands of devotees gathered at the Iskcon temple to perform parikrama around the Govardhan hill made from a 1,500-kg cake, on Wednesday.
Celebrating the auspicious day of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan hill to protect the residents of Mathura, traditionally every year a model of the hill is created from rice flour at Mathura. This year, the Govardhan hill at the Iskcon temple was created from the cake, attracting thousands of devotees.
“The huge cake was baked with the help of about 30 devotees at the Iskcon bakery, for the last three days. The cake was offered to Lord Krishna today (Wednesday),’’ Chanchalapathi Das, vice president of the temple, said. The cake was distributed to the devotees and will be distributed to children — under the Akshaya Patra scheme — on Thursday, as ‘prasadam’.
The temple goshala, consisting of 50 cows and calves, was decorated for the event and ‘Go puja’ was conducted in the evening. As part of the grand Diwali celebration, a special ‘aarti’ and ‘Karthika deepa’ were organized by the devotees. This was followed by the Narasimha Homa and Srinivasa Laksharchana. A 24-hour chanting of ‘Hare Rama’ for world peace was also organized at the temple.
“We will be celebrating the Deepotsavam till November 13 with a recital of special songs in the evening. Devotees participating in the evening puja will be given the opportunity of lighting ghee lamps to Lord Krishna during the monthlong celebration,’’ Chanchalapathi Das said.
Decorated with hundreds of lamps, the temple attracted more than 2,000 devotees on Wednesday.

Devotees perform parikrama around the Govardhan hill at the Iskcon temple on Wednesday

Now, Lalbagh has a problem of plenty

Now, Lalbagh has a problem of plenty
With Over 6,000 Visiting The Sprawling Garden Every Day, Its Facilities Are Being Stretched

Bangalore: Has Lalbagh reached a saturation point in number of visitors streaming in every day? While around 6,000 people come into the botanical garderns every day, over 10,000 people visit on weekends and festivals.
While shopping malls and multiplexes get their share of people with time to kill and money to spend, this sprawling garden is still the place to go for many simply because it has a precious attraction — fresh air. Horticultural officials told TOI: “While many frequent Lalbagh for jogging and other activities to keep healthy, others visit Lalbagh to enjoy the serenity. We see a crowd of at least 6,000 every day and over 10,000 on weekends and festivals.”
During summer, these numbers increase with inflow of tourists and locals seeking a cool spot to beat the heat. The garden is perhaps the only large green space, other than the Cubbon Park, in the city. While no one is asking people not to come to the garden, there is an element of worry: “The number of visitors has already reached saturation point and more visitors could ruin the serenity of the place,” |J K Vasanth Kumar, director of horticulture at Lalbagh, told TOI.
While a few residential areas do have facilities for jogging in the form of stadiums and clubs, large parts of Bangalore do not have green, serene environments that allow for relaxation. For instance, other than the small walking tracks in compact parks in residential areas, there are no spacious jogging tracks in many parts of North Bangalore. Most people prefer to drive to Lalbagh, jog for a while and go back home or head to the office.
Areas like Sarjapur or even closer to Koramangala too do not have such a large green facility. Marathahalli and surrounding areas are full of construction sites and buildings. Except for Cubbon Park for residents of central Bangalore, there is no other lung space. Many office-goers from areas in these directions do make it to Lalbagh early morning as there is not much traffic.
Why do people want to come so badly to Lalbagh to the extent they are prepared to drive a few kilometres? Sudha, teacher and frequent jogger, says: “If I’ve to get a long, spacious and at the same a green and fresh environment, small parks won’t do. Lalbagh gives you room to jog long distances and then to exercise and relax.”
Sreedhar, an executive and jogger, observes: “While small parks are a welcome addition to many residential areas in the city, they are good for quick walks and maybe sitting for a while. But if you want to do long walks with greenery around and not like to hit the road for this, Lalbagh is really the best option.”
Anuradha, a student, agrees: “If there is another Lalbagh, let’s say near Mysore Road, many people would prefer to go there. Most people around Basavanagudi, Gandhi Bazaar and Chamarajpet as well as Jayanagar have nowhere else to go.”
Most people, elders and middle-aged, agree the city should go in for similar green spaces in four corners for the convenience of residents. “That will reduce number of visitors coming into Lalbagh, either to jog or to relax,” adds Anuradha.
While regulating entry is not an option, officials can only take measures to improve facilities. “Though there may be many visitors, we don’t stop taking measures for the betterment of the park,” say officials. Maintainence staff work until late night to ensure a clean environment for visitors. Also, addditional staff are appointed during special occasions such as the flower shows and festivals to ensure that the place is clean.
Several changes are on the anvil and these include improving the aquarium, an audio-visual room to give tourists the history of Lalbagh and even laser falls. Lalbagh is also introducing new varieties of plants. A new jogger track from West Gate to South Gate is also planned.
Even as park authorities cope with the problems of more visitors, people could perhaps help by not littering and helping keep the place clean.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Villa rentals hit Rs 10 lakh plus in Bangalore

Villa rentals hit Rs 10 lakh plus in Bangalore
Asha Rai & Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: What is the highest rental you can imagine a person paying for a luxurious villa at a prestigious address in Bangalore? Rs 4/5 lakh per month said an informal dipstick survey. It’s actually multiples of that. Rentals for some exclusive homes in certain gated communities in city have risen to over Rs 10 lakh. Epsilon Villas is so exclusive that very few even know it exists off the old Airport Road. Soon to be home to former India cricket captain Rahul Dravid, this ‘by invitation only’ gated community has, among others, Sunil Alagh, former Britannia Industries MD, as a home owner. At Epsilon, the average rental is said to be around Rs 7 lakh per month going up to Rs 10 lakh plus. Cisco’s senior-most executive in India Wim Elfrink reportedly pays the highest rent of Rs 17-lakh monthly for his home-cum-office.
At ‘Palm Meadows,’ one of Bangalore’s earliest luxury, gated communities, rents range between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per month depending on the size of the property. At Mantri Altius, a luxury condominium in the heart of the city, average rental is around Rs 2.5 lakh per month. Most of these rentals are paid by senior, expat professionals working in Bangalore. There are instances where many expats have made getting a house in gated community a must requirement before accepting a Bangalore posting.
Why this huge desire for gated community properties, even when rents are as high as in exclusive neighbourhoods of big American cities? Says Jitu Virwani, chairman, Embassy Group, “Contrary to the general impression, expensive software jobs are in Bangalore today. The expats coming here are very senior people in their organizations. They want the same standard of living they had back home. They also want independent housing with amenities like swimming pool and gym which are not available outside gated communities.”
One such case is Wim Elfrink. A direct report to Cisco chairman John Chambers, he is the company’s chief globalization officer while also being vice president, customer advocacy. Cisco has made India its hub for the East and committed a billion dollars in investment. His villa, one of the biggest at Epsilon, has a huge backyard with a swimming pool. In every which way, it looks like a posh house in a rich, Californian suburb. Cisco spokesperson did not respond to a query on the rental paid by Elfrink, said to be the highest in the city.
In most of these developments, price per sq ft becomes an irrelevant criterion as you are paying a huge premium for the ‘right address’, for facilities of international standard and mostly unavailable in other properties. For e.g., an Epsilon villa listed with a property site says it offers a 110V electrical line (standard Indian power lines are 220V) so that American gadgets can be plugged in straight away. Plot size is of over 10,000 sq ft with builtup area of 8000 sq ft. Four bedrooms with attached baths and walk-in closets, five bathrooms, two servant rooms, bar, barbeque area, steam, massage room, gazebo, attic, and other frills.
Says Amit Bagaria, chairman, Asipac, a real estate development services and project marketing company, “In countries with a low human development index, gated communities provide genuine security to the upper classes, as well as expats. Such communities are usually staffed by private security guards and are often home to high-value properties, or set up as retirement villages. Some gated communities are secure enough to resemble fortresses”.

Is there less noise and smoke this time?

Is there less noise and smoke this time?

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: Does it seem that this time around Deepavali has been a tad less noisy? With greens fuming over the use of fire crackers — resulting in both environmental and noise pollution — the conscientious Bangalorean may just have moved an inch towards a cleaner and greener way of celebrating the festival of lights.

Concerted efforts by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) through advertisements and repeated appeals to citizens, have ensured that roads have not turned into a complete litter fest. While the traditional few stuck to their annual quota of firecrackers, others decided to take the green turn.

“My seven-year-old daughter came back from school and told me that she has been taught not to burst crackers and pollute the surroundings. There is certainly greater awareness about these things, which may act as a deterrent,” says Venkatachalam, a resident of Vasanthanagar.

Awareness campaigns were held in schools by various non-governmental organisations to educate students on both the environmental aspect and draw their attention to the various hazards faced by child workers in cracker manufacturing industry. Organisations such as Nayak’s Hearing clinic have taken up anti-cracker drives in nearly 350 schools to bring about awareness on the ill-effects of noise pollution.

Shruti Shah, a student of Christ University, says: “I have decided not to burst crackers, so as to do my bit for the environment. Another issue is the fact that these crackers are made by children, which is hazardous to their health.” G. Arumugam, a cracker stall owner at Malleshwaram grounds, says that it has been a lean festival. He has been selling crackers for 15 years and has seen a substantial dent in his revenues this time. “This could be due to a 30 per cent rise in the MRP (maximum retail price) of crackers. Added to this the fact that in spite of paying VAT we are being asked by different government authorities to pay extra dues,” he alleges.

A lull in the market and higher prices of crackers too appear to have influenced the trend this year, says Vatsala Mahalingam, a resident of Indiranagar. Her neighbours, who are into business, used to burst loads of crackers every year. “However, this time around I did not see a single cracker being burst by the members of that family,” she notes.

Pay up your first SAS instalment in 60 days

Pay up your first SAS instalment in 60 days

B a n g a l o r e :
Quite in the manner of a Diwali gift, the Self A s s e s s m e n t Scheme (SAS) for property tax collection exclusively for Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits came into effect on Tuesday.
An ordinance promulgated by governor Rameshwar Thakur allows BBMP to classify its jurisdiction into six zones based on guidance value published by the stamps and registration department. Under the new scheme, property tax can be paid in two equal instalments. The first instalment should be paid before May 30 and the second by November 29 of each financial year. There is an option to pay the entire amount at one go.
For the current financial year, the first instalment has to be paid within 60 days of the ordinance being promulgated. However, the government order specifies that for 2008-09, the first instalment must be paid within 60 days from the commencement of the ordinance (it has already been gazetted) and the second instalment within 30 days thereafter.
Tax calculation
The ordinance allows insertion of new clause section 108A into the Karnataka Municipal Act which says: ‘Tax being less than 20% and not more than 25% of the taxable annual value of a building, vacant land or both. The taxable part shall be calculated by multiplying the corresponding “unit area value” with the total built-up area of a building, vacant land or both for 10 months, minus depreciation at such rate, depending on the age of a building’. The ‘Unit Area Value’ is calculated by taking an ave r - a g e rate of expected returns from the property per sqft per month on the basis of the average market rate determined through mass appraisal method or real estate market information. BBMP will bring out a handbook which explains the salient features of the new system. Valuation under the new SAS has been revised by 20% compared to previous rates. Other fea tures include doubling the tax on vacant plots and 50% rebate for self-occupied residential properties. BBMP fines violators
Bangalore: BBMP commissioner S Subramanya inspected developmental works in areas that come under the western zone.
Along with health department officials, he took stock of hygiene conditions in the target areas. He ordered fines on individuals and contractors who violate BBMP’s guidelines.
At Jalahalli ward on Subroto Mukherjee Road, the trust of Ayyappa Swamy temple was fined Rs 3 lakh for disposing garbage nearby. The BBMP acted on a complaint filed by the site owner.
He also went to New Bel Road, Jalahalli and Vidyaranyapura Roads. He told officials to speed up repairs of important roads.

The city’s stinking underbelly

The city’s stinking underbelly

Anil Kumar Sastry

Subways at many places in Bangalore present a picture of neglect

— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

bad maintenance: Pedestrians find it difficult to walk through the subway connecting the City Railway Station and the Kempegowda Bus Station.

BANGALORE: Overflowing sewage, garbage, stench, hawkers selling odds and ends all along the path… This is the scene that greets you as you enter the subway connecting the City Railway Station with the Kempegowda Bus Stations (KBS).

“I have no choice but to use the subway to reach the KBS in the morning and the railway station in the evening,” says Mahesh Babu, who regularly commutes between Ramanagaram and the city for his daily avocation. The road above the subway is barricaded for pedestrians’ safety and everyone has no choice but to take this subway, Mr. Babu says.

Hawkers selling everything from pan masala and cigarettes to clothes spread their ware on the entire stretch of the subway, affecting the movement of pedestrians.

The situation is ditto inside the subway that connects KBS with Gandhinagar (near Sangam theatre). The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and police authorities simply look the other way.

Once you exit the subway and take a ramp towards KBS towards KSRTC bus station, again you are greeted by a hordes of hawkers and beggars occupying a major part of the skywalk.

On the other hand, the skywalk within BMTC’s jurisdiction is free of hawkers and beggars, thanks to the initiative taken by authorities concerned.

In the Krishna Rajendra Market, the subway is relatively clean but has limited takers as it does not offer complete connectivity around the market area.

Only the stretch under the K.R. Road is in use while the work on the one under the flyover (connecting Market Circle and Avenue Road side) is going on for almost one year. This was the first subway of Bangalore.

Another subway connecting BMTC’s Shivajinagar Bus Terminal under the Central Street is also being misused. The footpath between the Central Street and Bowring Hospital Compound is completely occupied by hawkers and pedestrians have no space to walk.

However, not all the subways are in bad shape in Bangalore. The subway connecting the platforms in the City Railway Station, once similar to the ones maintained by BBMP, now sport a clean, if not swanky, look. While the walls are free of graphic designs of pan stains, the pathway is maintained clean without sewage.

BBMP’s ‘outsource and forget’ mantra proves costly

BBMP’s ‘outsource and forget’ mantra proves costly

Krishnaprasad and Afshan Yasmeen

The civic body has failed to monitor maintenance work carried out by private contractors

Contactors never bother about what the residents have to say

BBMP hardly uses penalty clause to penalise the contractors

Bangalore: Has the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s decision to outsource maintenance of the city’s infrastructure helped improve services and made life simpler for Bangaloreans?

It appears not.

Ineffective monitoring, failure to impose penalty on defaulting private agencies and contractors for lapses, and alleged connivance of officials with the contractors are defeating the purpose for which outsourcing was initiated by the civic body.

A cross-section of residents of Bangalore The Hindu spoke to said that outsourcing of the maintenance of roads, drains, parks, flyovers, underpasses and so on has not improved the city’s infrastructure owing to the callousness of officials. “It is true that the private agency or contractors will have to discharge the responsibilities entrusted to them, but at the same it is the duty of the civic authority to monitor the maintenance work carried out by them,” says G. Ramamurthy, secretary, Coordinating Committee of Residents’ Welfare Associations of Indiranagar.

Mr. Ramamurthy points out that recently a contractor, who filled potholes in Indiranagar area, did a shabby job but the BBMP did not bother to check the quality of work. Though residents were aware of the sub-standard work, they could not do much as the contactors never bother about what the residents have to say.

Mathew Thomas of Citizens’ Action Forum says that the outsourcing will help the city only when the BBMP takes feedback from the residents on the performance of the private agencies and contractors and takes necessary action based on its result. “The process of outsourcing should be transparent. Details of contract such as amount paid, contractual obligations, etc., should be made available to the residents of the locality concerned at a regular interval which will help them to keep a vigil on performance of contractors,” says Mr. Mathew. He cites the garbage collection system as a classic example of outsourcing going out of gear.

Kumara Park West Residents’ Welfare Association president N.S. Ramakanth complains about poor maintenance of the park in Kumara Park West by a private contractor. “Maintenance has been outsourced for improving the park, but it has not improved the status of the park. Still we have to complain to higher authorities in the BBMP about poor maintenance.”

Rajashekhar, a resident of Banaswadi, points out that connivance of BBMP officials with the private agency or contractors is draining the BBMP’s treasury.

He points out that the BBMP hardly uses the penalty clause as per the agreement to penalise the contractors for shabby work and, in many cases, the agreement might be in favour of the contractors without any provision for stringent penalty. “Publication of terms and conditions of the agreement with contractors on BBMP’s website can come handy for fixing responsibility on contractors and the officials,” he says.

Probe into irregularities in garbage collection

Probe into irregularities in garbage collection


BBMP entrusts BMTF with the inquiry

Irregularities in cleaning, transportation and disposal of MSW uncovered

GIS cell could not locate the movement of more than 70 trucks

— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Unhygienic: Garbage remains uncleared across Banglore since Sunday owing to Deepavali holidays.

Bangalore: After facing public criticism for tardy garbage clearance in many wards, and the illegal dumping of municipal solid waste on the city’s outskirts, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has ordered a full-fledged inquiry into the irregularities in the process of garbage-clearing by the private contractors.

In his order issued in this regard on October 14, BBMP Commissioner S. Subramanya entrusted the inquiry to the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF), headed by Inspector-General of Police N.R. Nadamani.

What prompted the inquiry? Apart from a large number of complaints from people about non-clearance of garbage for many days, the BBMP has also uncovered serious irregularities in cleaning, transportation and disposal of MSW by the contractors. They were able to do this after the installation of GIS instruments on every truck that was authorised to transport garbage to treatment plants and dumping sites.

The GIS was installed to check the movements of trucks to keep a vigil on time schedule on garbage clearance and to monitor the location of garbage dumped by the trucks.

According to BBMP officials, the GIS monitoring cell has revealed that the computerised system could not locate the movement of more than 70 trucks on which GIS instruments were installed.

Interestingly, though movements of these trucks were not recorded in the monitoring cell, the concerned medical officers of health had certified that these trucks were transporting garbage regularly.

On verification, it was found that the contractors had removed the instruments illegally without intimating the BBMP, but claimed that the trucks were transporting garbage. When questioned, the contractors, BBMP officials said, gave “baseless” answers. They said they removed the GIS instruments as the trucks had to cover a distance beyond the designated locations to dump garbage following opposition by the local people for dumping garbage in their villages.

The officials pointed that the contractors did not have to travel beyond the designated dumping yards as claimed by them. The BBMP annually pays about Rs. 120 crore for contractors for cleaning, garbage collection and transportation in East, West and South zones.

Also, when the contractors were asked to produce all the 196 trucks registered with the BBMP for transportation of garbage, it was found than 80 trucks produced were not originally registered with the authorities.

As per the condition, each contractor will have to employ about 600 to 700 personnel for garbage collection and cleaning.

However, the authorities suspect that contractors have employed only a few personnel despite claiming salary for all.

This could be the main cause for the irregular cleaning and collection of garbage in many parts of the city, the officials point out.

These toilets are not so ‘nirmala’

These toilets are not so ‘nirmala’

Deepika Arwind

— Photo:V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Unhygienic: A Nirmala toilet in Bangalore:

Bangalore: As one visits public toilets in different parts of the city, it is evident that their maintenance is not consistent, and each of them has different problems. However, there are some problems common to all — the most visibly among them being broken flush tanks.

While one would expect water supply to be a biggest problem in public toilets, the problem of broken fittings and fixtures precedes it. For instance, the two public toilets near the Shivajinagar Bus station get their water supply from a borewell. The reasonably well-maintained toilet inside this large bus station does not have any scarcity of water, but most of the flush tanks are broken, resulting in poor hygienic conditions despite availability of water.

The “Nirmala Shauchalaya” next to the bus station has the same problem, and seems to be less-taken care of. Broken and dirty toilet seats and commodes are a common sight here.

A “Nirmala Shauchalaya” toilet in Jayanagar III Block has a borewell as does the public toilet cum bath-house on St. Marks Road. However, weekly caretakers at both the places complain that basins and flush-tanks are almost always broken. Navaratna, who takes care of the Nirmala Shauchalaya in Jayanagar III Block says that there are times when the toilets are broken into at night.

“People break the basins and steal the taps and we have to replace them with plastic taps we get in the local stores,” says Ms. Navaratna. As workers from the construction site in the vicinity use the toilet often, it needs to be cleaned again and again, according to her. “Sometimes, I clean it close to 60 to 70 times a day,” she adds. The toilet is fairly clean and people who use it do not have any complaints, except for the broken toilet seats and commodes.“Four months ago some people from the Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) came to ask us if there were any complaints, but after that nothing has happened,” says Ms. Navaratna.

Another public toilet in Jayanagar IV Block close to the Jain Temple has the same problems of flush tanks and fittings, but caretakers of the public toilet say that BBMP workers come there regularly to inspect the toilets, yet those who use it are not satisfied with its condition.

On St. Marks Road, users of the public toilet cum bath-house have many complaints. “More than the toilet itself, the area around it stinks,” says Bhaskar, who has a mobile cigarette shop nearby and uses the toilet at least three times a day.

“Instead of paying a rupee or two to use the toilet, people use its outside walls as a urinal. Even the inside of the toilet is quite dirty,” he complains.

Devaki Umesh, BBMP Health Commissioner, West Zone, says that one of the main problems that they face is that of people’s attitudes. “If they see a whole drum of water, they just have a cold water bath and leave the toilet, leaving no water for others,” she says, adding that sometimes users of the toilet do not pay.

There are 80 Nirmala Bangalore Toilets in the West Zone and 50 per cent of them have water problems and electricity problems.

Community halls in city in an unholy mess

Community halls in city in an unholy mess

Afshan Yasmeen

Only about five of the 20 community halls are being put to use

The civic body needs Rs. 10 lakh a year for maintaining each hall

Bangalore: Leaking roofs, broken taps, dirty rooms, filthy toilets and messy kitchens. This sums up the state of community halls run by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in the city.

There are around 20 BBMP community halls in Bangalore of which hardly four to five are being put to use.

The rest are used only for temporary rehabilitation of affected families during rain or for conducting exhibitions. There are no takers for these halls because they are badly maintained and are in a dilapidated condition.

Once occupied by victims of natural calamities, these halls turn into virtual housing settlements and the BBMP authorities say that they find it very hard to make the occupants leave the premises. This, it claims, is one of the reasons why the BBMP has lost interest in maintenance of these halls.

Following complaints of poor maintenance, the BBMP had proposed to privatise the halls and outsource their maintenance in 2002. In fact, the BMP Samudaya Bhavan on Thimmaiah Road in Bharatinagar was handed over to a private firm on a pilot basis. Though the firm managed it quite well for sometime, the situation is back to square one after the contract ended. The privatisation plan was dropped and the condition of these community halls is deteriorating day by day.

Recently, Minister for Science and Technology Ramachandra Gowda said the State Government is contemplating using BBMP community halls for conducting computer training courses and other skills development programmes. But this proposal too is still on paper.


But there are exceptions such as the community halls in Rajajinagar 6th Block, Yediyur and Sindhi colony. These halls are well maintained and are situated in prominent locations. Probably that is why even middle class families book these halls for their family functions. These halls are most of times booked by government-aided agencies for conducting exhibitions.

BBMP officials, who admitted that the maintenance of community halls is very bad, said running the community halls was not financially viable. “Though we require at least Rs. 10 lakh a year for maintaining each hall, the minimal charges collected from the citizens is hardly enough to pay the power charges,” a top official said.

At a time when the rent of private wedding halls in the city is not less than Rs. 20,000, the BBMP is charging between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 7,000 depending on the location.

“Lack of civic consciousness and disregard for government property among people has resulted in such a situation. We are ready to repair these halls and maintain them in a better way if people use them with a little care,” the official said.

Citing an example, he said, “While lighting firewood to cook is not allowed in any private halls, people use only firewood in our halls. The resultant soot and smoke settles on the walls making them dirtier. People think that it is government property and they can use it anyway they want,” he pointed out.

Will outsourcing help then? “We do not think so because we fear we will only end up spending more money. Running community halls is one of the social obligations of the civic body and we will continue it,” the official added.

New proposals to ease traffic

New proposals to ease traffic

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Police commis sioner, Shankar Bidari, has approached the Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA) with a set of proposals to improve traffic conditions in the city.

The commissioner has written to the BMLTA following a series of meetings with police officers and road safety committee members. He has suggested that the BDA and the BBMP identify available corner sites in the Central Business District and on the outskirts of the city for autorickshaw stands, and taxi and other vehicle parking lots. Mr Bidari has suggested these parking lots be paid ones to generate revenue for the civic agencies “The authorities should undertake inspection of the buildings which have a floor area of more than 10,000 sq ft in the first stage and satisfy themselves as to whether the parking space approved by the BBMP at the time of sanctioning the plans for construction of the building, is maintained as parking space or not. If there is any violation which has resulted in the reduction or elimination of the parking space, the BMTF has to take action and ensure that the area earmarked for the parking of vehicles, at the time of sanction of the building plan, is maintained as parking area,” Mr Bidari says in his letter.

He has urged the BMLTA to consider banning construction of additional commercial space or residential apartments in a 5 km radius around Vidhana Soudha and to frame new bye-laws for approval of building plans keeping the traffic conditions in mind.

He has suggested making full use of the available railway network and stressed on upgradation of the railway stations at Bellandur, Whitefield, Chikkabanavara, Kengeri and Yelahanka into full-fledged stations.

Flyovers score low on maintenance

Flyovers score low on maintenance


— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Death trap: A portion of the railings of the Sirsi Circle flyover in Bangalore which was broken after an accident is not repaired even after six months.

Bangalore: After roads and drains, it is now the turn of flyovers and underpasses to be added to the list of infrastructure that are poorly maintained by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

The issue of maintenance of flyovers and underpasses crops up when the contractors’ obligation to maintain the structures built by them expires two to three years after completion of construction.

Sirsi Circle flyover, one of prestigious and the first flyover of the city, is now being cited as an example for lack of maintenance by the BBMP. Built at a cost of about Rs. 95 crore during 1998-2000, the flyover today is crying for maintenance by the BBMP. Broken expansion joints, leakage of water, clogged rain water pipes passing through piers, damaged railings, disfigured signboards and absence of proper illumination are among the problems haunting the users of this 2.8-km-long flyover from two to three years.

Though this flyover has received appreciation for its quality, its present status has reduced its popularity as many vehicles have been damaged while passing through the broken expansion joints. Leakage of water from these joints is causing nuisance to people who walk under the flyover.

It is not that the BBMP is unaware of these problems. Though action for maintenance was initiated more than a year ago, the flyover’s condition remains the same. Some officials say that speed with which the repair and maintenance works are taken up depends on the commitment and expertise of persons in charge of the responsibilities as it deals with procedures like regular inspection, assessment of damages, preparation of detailed project report, tendering, etc.

Maintenance of Sirsi Circle flyover will also be outsourced shortly. A senior engineer of the BBMP said that a private firm had submitted a detailed project report for taking up maintenance work.

According to the report, about Rs 1.5 crore is required to repair and replace the broken expansion joints of the flyovers and the government has recently permitted the BBMP to carry out the work, the engineer said pointing out that tender for this purpose has been invited and the works will be taken up within a few weeks once the contractor is identified.

However, other regular repair and maintenance work — like clearing clogged drains — which require another Rs 1.5 crore, is awaiting approval from the State Government.

In some cases, the problems crop up as the contractors who have built the flyovers fail to maintain them as per the terms of the agreement and this has been causing additional financial burden on the BBMP.

As admitted by a senior official of the BBMP, there is no mechanism in the system to keep track of maintenance by the contractors who have built the flyovers or underpasses.

Aravind Kumar, a young civil engineer, feels that the BBMP needs to plan in advance, that is before the expiry of maintenance period imposed on the builders of flyovers, the mode of future maintenance. Adoption of proper methods to clean the drains and regular inspection play a crucial role in preventing damage to the structures, says Mr. Kumar.

Garbage collection takes backseat

Garbage collection takes backseat
Bangalore, dhns:

Garbage collection has apparently been a casualty in many residential layouts of the City, thanks to the string of holidays. The tell-tale signs of uncleared garbage were there for all to see in many areas, including Banashankari 3rd Stage.

For instance, at Ward no 56, Lakshmanappa road junction of 5th main and 5th cross in Banashankari 3rd stage, the usual pile-up of garbage has mounted in the last few days.

Laments Dr Gopinath, a resident of the area, “Garbage is being dumped just beside our house for the past many years. But during the past few days the amount of garbage has enormously increased and is emitting a putrid stench which is unbearable. Besides, this poses an enormous health hazard to the residents."

No garbage disposal truck has apparently visited the area in the last few days. On Tuesday, some civic authorities reportedly burnt a part of the dump. The smoke emitted in the heart of residential layout had its effects. “The burning material was emitting huge amounts of smoke causing allergic bronchitis to my family members,” complained another resident of the area. Apparently, the residents complained the concerned health authorities. But no action was taken, they said.

Deepavali is an occasion for me to invite customers and friends to the shop. Forgetting the routine ‘profit and loss’ talks, I engage in offering pooja to goddess Lakshmi and share sweets with friends and family members.

Today I opened new account books. I wish by next Deepavali, I start one more shop in the city.

-Rakesh, Manyatha Lights

Being a former NCC cadet, I chose this festival as an opportunity to convey my customers not to pollute environment by bursting crackers. None of us in the family have burst crackers for the last five years. I tell the same to others.

I am happy that many customers respond positively.

-Darshit Surana,
Prakash Appliances & Spares

Throughout the year, we are engaged in highly competitive trade. But on the day of Deepavali, we concentrate only on celebrations. 125 families in Basettypet come together to celebrate. We distribute sweet among ourselves and have food together.

Surendra Kumar,
Electric Merchants Association, Basettypet

We offer pooja for goddess Lakshmi at brahmi muhurta. Years ago, we used to change account books and cash books on the occasion of Deepavali. In the recent years we do offer pooja to new account books but make use of them only in the next financial year. It is a belief that if account books are offered pooja, we do good business without hassles in the next year.

-Prakash, Electric shopkeeper

Bommanahalli turns a dump

Bommanahalli turns a dump

By Atul Chaturvedi
Posted On Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trouble seems to be heading towards Bommanahalli residents in pairs. After the heavy rains that created a flood-like situation and brought life to a standstill last week, Bommanahalli has now become a dumping ground for the city’s garbage.

Fed up with the state of affairs, nearly 200 residents of Nayanappahalli and Bandenahalli village in BTM Layout 4th stage took out a protest march against BBMP on Tuesday, led by the local MLA Satish Reddy.

The residents allege that the Palike has been dumping the city’s garbage here for the last two months.

Reddy came down heavily on BBMP Commissioner Dr S Subramanaya’s directive, given to contractor Ravi Naidu, to dump garbage here. He also warned of intensifying the stir if the Palike continued to do the same.

Following Reddy’s complaint at the Hulimavu Police Station, four lorries were seized in Nayanappahalli and a case has been booked against contractor Ravi Naidu.

“I had written to the BBMP commissioner a fortnight ago asking him not to dump garbage here. I had also asked District and Transport Minister R Ashok to intervene in this matter. But the commissioner has ignored that as well. After the rains created a problem, garbage dumping has added to the misery. This has even contaminated the water supply. BBMP officials are creating havoc with people’s health and lives,” Reddy said to Bangalore Mirror.

About 150 lorries dump garbage in this BDA-approved layout. The Karnataka Pollution Control Board has also served a notice to the BBMP for dumping garbage, which was allegedly ignored by the Palike.

While the sources said that it was being done following the commissioner’s order, the officials remained unavailable for comment.

Less funds for development

Less funds for development

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I State releases only Rs 100 crore against Rs 1,800 crore I ‘ Under what provision can the BDA ‘ execute infrastructure projects?
Former mayor P.R. Ramesh claims the state government has released only Rs 100 crore to the BBMP although it had promised Rs 1,800 crore to develop the city’s infrastructure.

Mr Ramesh, who claims to have got the information under the Right to Information Act from the principal secretary Urban Development Mr K. Jothirmalingam, says Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned under State Finance Commission grants. “It is obligatory on a government to release SFC grants to the BBMP for pay ment of salaries to its employees. This money cannot be used for infrastructure funds,” he says.

Also, of Rs 110 crore earmarked for development and widening of roads in the periphery of the city from BDA’s funds only Rs 27.50 crore has been released. And BBMP spent the money towards paying the arrears of contractors, the former mayor says.

A major portion of the Rs 1,800 crore is meant for the Metro Rail which will get about for Rs 700 crore. The money is expected to be released as and when the work progresses.

Mr Ramesh adds that according to his information another Rs 700 crore will be used by the BDA to provide civic amenities in newly added areas of the BBMP. And Rs 100 crore will go to the BWSSB to complete the Cauvery 4th stage.

But BBMP sources point out that the BDA is a local planning authority which can only plan for the growth of the city for the next 10 years.

“Under what provision can the BDA execute infrastructure projects?” ask BBMP officers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cinemas outclass tax department with out pass

Cinemas outclass tax department with out pass

Y Maheswara Reddy
First Published : 27 Oct 2008 11:59:00 AM IST
Last Updated :

BANGALORE: In Sandalwood parlance, an out pass is issued when a cine-goer has to leave the hall midway to attend to some pressing matter. But most cinema halls in Bangalore, especially those on the outskirts of the city, issue out passes to evade a pressing matter — entertainment tax.

Theatres such as Rajeswari Chitramandira on Airport Road and Thulasi and Srinivasa at Marathalli issue out passes in lieu of cinema tickets. Vinayaka issues a ticket with no details on entertainment tax. Though the seal of the Entertainment Officer is mandatory, none of the tickets issued by Vinayaka theatre has it.

Non-Kannada films attract 40 per cent entertainment tax under the Karnataka Entertainment Tax Act 1958. Most of these theatres screen Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films. On a ticket of Rs 50, the theatre management has to pay Rs 20 as entertainment tax. However, by not issuing tickets, they save on that amount.

V B Maheswarappa, Entertainment Tax Officer I, told this website's newspaper that he had visited these theaters “twice from April” but found nothing amiss. And probably Maheswarappa never will because reliable sources in the entertainment tax department told this website's newspaper that for a consideration certain members inform theatres of such visits.

President of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Jayamala, says a few bad apples are bringing disrepute to honest cinema halls.

H D Gangaraj, former president of KFCC says, “Many theatres that screen non-Kannada films try to avoid paying entertainment tax.”

Harish Gowda, Commissioner (Commercial Taxes) says there are “one or two theatres” evading tax.

Bangalore smokes out the ban?

Bangalore smokes out the ban?

First Published : 27 Oct 2008 12:19:00 PM IST
Last Updated :

BANGALORE: Just a lone offender was caught in Bangalore city, even after more than two weeks since the anti-smoking rule came into force on October 2. Either the city is huffing and puffing in smoking out the smokers or it is just that the city-dwellers have given up the habit of lighting up in public. What looks more likely is the lack of zeal to implement the ban by the authorities concerned.

Strangely enough, while it was just one offender at Canara Club in Malleshwaram, who was fined Rs 200 for smoking in public in the Garden City, cases galore were reported from other metros, with Chennai alone accounting for 110 cases on the very first day of the ban.

New Delhi, where Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss holds his office, too exhibited an exemplary zeal in enforcing the ban on smoking in public places by notching up 141 violators in just two days of the ban.

Though consolidated figures have not been compiled yet, the Mumbai city police department confirmed that 20 cases were booked up to October 13.

Hyderabad too showed that it was serious about the smoking ban by booking 14 cases within three days of the enforcement and on October 14 alone it had booked 20 violators. But, Hyderabad chose to fine Rs 100 on each offender instead of the stipulated fine of Rs 200.

If Bangalore has collected a mere Rs 200 as fine so far from the “sole” violator, Delhi had collected Rs 7,000 in just two days. Neighbouring Tamil Nadu collected Rs 1,00,000 on the opening day itself as fine.

Speaking to this website's newspaper, Joint Director Dr Prakash, (Nodal Officer), State Anti-Tobacco Cell (SATC) says: “The cell has registered one case of violation at Canara Club, Malleswaram. However, we have not received any reports or statistics from police officials or other government organisations till date. Moreover, it is too early to think of the figures as it needs combined efforts of various departments.”

However, the situation only reflects variations in implementation, results and awareness. Even after two weeks of its enforcement, the anti-smoking law is proving to be an eyewash as authorities are not implementing the ban properly.

City police have not yet received the order for issuing challans to violators. B K Singh, DCP, East Division, says: “Till date, the department has not received any order or circular from the government or any other cell to issue challans to the violators.”

The axe effect

The axe effect
By: Lavanya Srinivasan
Date: 2008-10-27


The felling game has begun. BBMP and BWSSB are on a tree-felling spree to widen roads and lay pipelines. This time, it is the stretch between BDA junction and Cauvery Theatre junction on the road to the new airport.

BWSSB dug deep trenches next to the trees to lay a pipeline on this stretch. The trees started titling dangerously towards the ground and even vanished after a couple of days. Most of the trees were 50-60 years old.

The kill-tree operation is on in full swing. BWSSB has gone ahead and started digging along the entire stretch. It is only a matter of days before the trees on the whole stretch will either be cut off or will fall on their own. Almost 30-40 trees have been cut in the stretch so far.

"The damage is already done. But, everything is not lost. Can we make BWSSB stop digging? There's so much traffic around and there is no option left other than to chop these trees. But if they are planning to re-plant it somewhere, that would be better," says Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist.

While BBMP stresses on preventive measures, experts say that there is more to this issue. S G Neginhal, environmentalist, says authorities add to the problem by pruning trees unscientifically.

"To create more road space, I have seen several trees that are cut unevenly. This makes it heavier on one side and it will fall," he explains.

Vehicle population

"There are over 14 lakh families with over 40 lakh vehicles. The BBMP has initiated road-widening works in 85 roads and broadening exercise of 10 more is underway. Trees which are planted on either side of the roads will be transplanted in various public and private places, for which the support and cooperation of people, NGOs and other organisations is essential," said Vasanth, tree officer, BBMP.

However, Shekhar, tree officer, BBMP, maintains that they had no options and had to go ahead with the felling. "This place will see a lot of traffic and we had to do it," he said.

With environmentalists working hard on keeping the city green, BBMP has felled 317 trees in the last three months.


When asked whether they would replant the trees elsewhere, he said, "Yes we will be replanting the saplings once all the work is done."

This apart, BBMP, along with NGOs, is taking up a survey of dangerous trees and branches on all major roads.

The survey report will be prepared in two days and action initiated based on it. Experts say that the adult trees serve as a precious balancing factor in the already emaciated urban ecology system. But would Palike care about this?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rain ruin: 1,500 houses flooded

Rain ruin: 1,500 houses flooded

Residential areas of Mangammanapalya off Bommanahalli flooded after heavy rains in Bangalore on Saturday.
Express News Service
First Published : 26 Oct 2008 05:06:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 26 Oct 2008 11:24:02 AM IST

BANGALORE: The continuing wet spell has yet again confirmed the inadequacy of the city’s drains and infrastructure as many areas in the city were flooded on Friday.

Heavy rains for over the week have caused inconvenience to residents of low-lying areas.

More than 1,500 houses in areas like Hongasandra, Bommanahalli, Garvebhavi Palya and Begur were flooded on Friday night following the breach of the Begur tank.

Water entered the houses around midnight.

Roads in those areas were flooded with water reaching more than five to six feet.

More than 18 vehicles were stuck in water.

Residents complained of the bad maintenance of drains by the BBMP. “This has been happening every time for almost three years now.” Rameshwar, a resident of Bommanahalli complained. Met officials say that the rains are likely to continue throughout the week.

Traffic woes

The holiday traffic stretched the city’s lean infrastructure as many motorists thronged shopping malls. Many roads were water-logged. Due to the lack of parking facilities many motorists had to park on the road.

In order to avert congestion at the Majestic area, buses to Tamil Nadu have been plying from the Shanthi Nagar bus station. Buses headed to Mysore and Kerala are plying from the Mysore Road satellite bus station.